October is Spina Bifida Awareness Month.
My son Toby has Spina Bifida, myelomeningocele L3 - L4. Toby is three years old, uses a wheelchair, crawls around the house, and is beginning to use a walker with the help of leg braces.
This article was taken from Kidshealth.com Sometimes the easiest way to understand things like this is when it's written to children. I think adults get too caught up in using big medical terms.
What Is Spina Bifida?
Someone born with spina bifida has an opening in the spine. A healthy spine is closed to protect the spinal cord, a bundle of nerves that sends messages back and forth between your brain and the rest of your body. The messages tell your muscles to move so you can kick a soccer ball or pick up a pencil. The messages also tell you about sensations on your skin, so you know to pull your hand away from a hot pot.
When a baby is growing inside its mother, the spine and spinal cord are developing. But sometimes part of the spinal cord and spine don't grow the way they should, leaving an opening where the spinal cord may protrude outside the body. When this happens, a baby is born with spina bifida, a term that means "split or open spine."
Because of the opening in the spine, the nerves of the spinal cord may be damaged. A spinal cord that's damaged may not be able to do the important job of getting messages to and from the brain. Usually when your brain says "kick the ball," the nerves of your spinal cord carry that message that tells your leg to kick.
These messages may not be able to get through if a person has spina bifida. The person may not be able to move their muscles the way other people do. This is called paralysis (say: puh-ra-luh-sis), which means a person can't move some muscles or to feel things on some parts of the body.